Peter A Allard School of Law

Sara Gordon

Associate Professor
BA (Pitzer College); JD (University of Arizona)

she/her

Profile

Sara Gordon is an Associate Professor at the Allard School of Law. Her current research focuses on the ways in which psychology and mental health intersect with the criminal justice system and the many barriers faced by people with mental illness involved in that system. At Allard, Professor Gordon teaches Criminal Law, Evidence Law, Mental Health Law, and a seminar in Law and Psychology.

Professor Gordon’s recent work examines drug and other specialty courts, which were originally intended to divert people with criminal charges out of the criminal justice system and allow them to instead receive treatment for an underlying mental illness or substance use disorder. Research in both the medical and psychological fields is rapidly evolving and, although it bears heavily on many aspects of the criminal justice system, including the treatment received by individuals in drug and other specialty courts, many lawyers, judges, and even legal scholars often exhibit a limited understanding of medical and psychological knowledge. Professor Gordon’s research helps to fill this gap through careful attention to the state of scientific and psychological literature and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Prior to joining the Allard School of Law, Professor Gordon was the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the UNLV Boyd School of Law in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and most recently, as Interim Dean of the law school.

Courses

Criminal Law, Evidence, Law and Psychology, Mental Health Law

Publications

  • About a Revolution: Toward Integrated Treatment in Drug & Mental Health Courts, 97 North Carolina L. Rev. 355, 355-394 (2019) (excerpted in Jones et. al., Law & Neuroscience 443 (2020)).
     
  • The Use and Abuse of Mutual Support Programs in Drug Courts, 2017 Illinois L. Rev. 1503, 1503-1543.
     
  • Crossing the Line: Daubert, Dual Roles, and the Admissibility of Forensic Mental Health Testimony, 37 Cardozo L. Rev. 1345, 1345-1399 (2016).
     
  • The Danger Zone: How a Narrow Interpretation of Gravely Disabled Statutes Harms People with Serious Mental Illness, 66 Case Western L. Rev. 657, 657-700 (2016).
     
  • With Dr. Melissa Piasecki et al., Review of Alaska Mental Health Statutes (2016).
     
  • All Together Now: Using Principles of Group Dynamics to Train Better Jurors, 48 Indiana L. Rev. 415, 415-459 (2015)
     
  • What Jurors Want to Know: Motivating Juror Cognition to Increase Comprehension & Improve Decision-Making, 81 Tennessee L. Rev. 751, 751-793 (2014).
     
  • Through the Eyes of Jurors: The Use of Schemas in the Application of “Plain Language” Jury Instructions, 64 Hastings L. J. 643, 643-677 (2013).

Publications listed on the Law Library Faculty Research Publications Database

Sara Gordon

Research Interests

  • Criminal law and criminal justice
  • Health law and policy
  • Legal methodology and interdisciplinary approaches

How do we create laws and legal systems that protect, rather than punish, people with mental illness?


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